According to Erika Miller, spokeswoman for CAA Manitoba, higher fines and more demerit points won’t necessarily change distracted driving behaviour.
The province of British Columbia recently announced that fines for distracted driving will be increasing. Distracted drivers will now have to pay a total of $543 for a first offence, which is up 120 percent from the legislation passed in 2010.
Miller said that the CAA is not against stiffer penalties, however, she argues that the root of the problem is in education and changing driver behaviour.
“We wouldn’t oppose higher fines or demerits, but we would want to see focus put to increased education and enforcement. Education comes down to people needing to understand the impact of distracted driving. We need to be telling the stories that texting and driving kills.
What we’re saying is there really needs to be a culture shift on distracted driving. It takes time for that shift to happen. It took years to reduce drunk-driving incidents, but the sooner we can do it, the better.”
The fine increase in British Columbia now makes it the stiffest price to pay for distracted driving, while fines in Ontario remain the second highest in the country at $400.
“Manitoba Infrastructure is working closely with Manitoba Public Insurance to monitor distracted driving behaviour, explore potential interventions and deterrents, and review best practices in other jurisdictions.”
In a statement, Winnipeg police Sgt. Rob Riffel said that changing distracted-driving behaviour is really difficult, especially when we are in an era where people are so attached to their smartphones and other electronic devices. Riffel wants drivers to realize that using a smartphone while behind the wheel can be very dangerous.
[via Winnipeg Sun]